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Humans and the Pleistocene Megafaunal Extinction. Kelsey T. Stilson. Cultural and Climate Revolution. Migrations change both humans and the ecosystem. Novel System. Stepped Global Extinction Events.

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Presentation Transcript
cultural and climate revolution
Cultural and Climate Revolution
  • Migrations change both humans and the ecosystem.

Novel System

stepped global extinction events
Stepped Global Extinction Events

Barnosky, AD; Koch, PL; Feranec, RS; Wing, SL; Shabel, AB. Assessing the causes of late Pleistocene extinctions on the continents. Science (New York, N.Y.) 2004 Oct 1; 306(5693): 70-5.

north america
North America
  • American Horse, Mammoths, Mastodons, Lions, Cheetahs, Giant Ground Sloths, Camels, Glyptodonts, Indricotheres, Saber-toothed cat, Dire wolves, Peccaries, Tapirs…
  • Exceptions
why do we look at megafauna
Why do we look at Megafauna?
  • Megafauna = 44+ kg (100 lbs)
  • Early indicators of climate change!









human influence
Human Influence



  • Overkill (Blitzkreig) Hypothesis: Paleoindians hunted the megafauna to extinction (Paul Martin)
  • Timing is right, but the evidence is limited for complete human responsibility.

Too few taxa Few kill sites

  • ‘Sitzkrieg’ Hypothesis: other ways humans alter the environment (Jared Diamond)

15 - 13 Ka

  • Brought over by humans or dogs with the migration over beringia.
  • Extremely deadly
  • This would require the virus or bacteria to ‘jump’ between different Orders, something that has never been observed in modern biology.

Guthrie, Dale R. New carbon dates link climatic change with human colonization and Pleistocene extinctions. Nature Vo. 441. Issue 7090 p.207

implications for the future
Implications for the Future

Overkill, Over-chill, Over-ill…

  • Humans today affect the ecosystem, how far back does this go?
  • Depends on culture
  • How will we change as we

change our environment?

thank you
Thank You!

Special thanks to Professor Mark Carey,

Professor Sam Hopkins,

and Dr. Edward Davis